Southward Bound

Sometimes an adventure begins before you even leave home. Our plan was to leave Portland on October 23 and drive down to Puerto Escondido to reunite with Gypsy. With a couple of inflatable kayaks, a 45 lb. anchor and all kinds of other stuff, we had too much gear to fly with. We had a few last minute errands to run and were rummaging around in our spare tire well to see if we had a can of fix-a-flat in our emergency kit. A guy comes up to us and asks if we need help with our spare tire. It wasn’t until we pulled out that we noticed that every car on both sides of the street had a flat tire. Stopping the car we realized that we did too! Les Schwab had a crew helping folks get spares on, including ours. It was a busy morning for them. The tire stabber hit at least a three block stretch of cars. So much for last minute errands. Bill spent the morning instead trying to find a new tire, calling the insurance company, and filing a police report. Luckily a tire was found in Beaverton that could be installed that afternoon. That night we parked the car behind our condo (a no, no) and in the morning finished loading it.

By 8 am we were on the road, heading south on I-5 in the fog and cold. Patches of fog persisted until we were down in the Umqua Valley. The fog finally lifted and the scenery got more interesting – more fall colors, the road got twisty and hilly. Around Mt. Shasta in California, there was evidence of big fires on on both sides of the freeway. Once past the lake we were into miles of groves of trees, probably olives and almonds.

Burn near Mt. Shasta.

Spent the night in Sacramento. The next morning we repacked the car and hit the road. Once past Stockton, I-5 becomes two lanes of really straight and boring road. More trees and grapes. Made it through LA only to hit major traffic in San Diego. Back near the ocean!

Early start to cross the border at San Ysidro. We sailed through but didn’t get our FMMs, our tourist visas for Mexico. Driving through Tijuana, we took a wrong turn and ended up in the border crossing going north in the middle of the morning rush hour. There was a gap the barrier where the motorcycles were coming in that was wide enough for a car to go through. We risked it, only to be stopped a policeman at the end of the block. This was a one way street and the fine for driving the wrong direction was $400 US. And we would be towed. The policeman got a colleague who could speak English. What it meant was that he knew how to use Google translate, enough that his phone kept saying “you must pay the fine.” We said we’d be willing to pay the fine, but didn’t have it in cash. Was there a bank nearby? How long until the tow truck arrived? Could we follow them in our car to the police station? No and no. Finally, they said if we turned around and went back across the border they would pretend nothing had happened. We turned around, got in the Express Lane only to find out that we had not registered our car with our International Entry cards. We got a finger wagging, but the agent let us through. Did a turn around at the first exit and crossed the border again, this time asking where we could get our FMM. Got them and were back on the road later than we’d hoped, but heading south on Mexico 1D.

Highway 1D is the scenic toll highway out of Tijuana. Two lanes, scenic with a good view of the ocean, and it actually has shoulders. Once past the toll zone, the highway becomes one lane each way, loses its shoulders and sometimes its striping, and gets nice and twisty and hilly. The paving stays good for most of it. When we got behind a truck, they’d put on their left turn signal to let us know it was safe to pass, not always when it was marked. Curves were tight, sometimes hairpin, often with a decreasing radius just after a blind hill.

We headed over one hill and the landscape changed abruptly from scrub and cactus to boulder strewn scrub and cactus. It looked like a boulder beach, with many of the rocks at least car sized. At one point we noticed there were no power lines paralleling the road and then suddenly there they were. We made it to Guerrero Negro before dark. The Halfway Inn is just outside of town, and a charming place to stay. We caught part of a World Series game (in Spanish) and went to bed early.

After four days of driving, we made it to Puerto Escondido and three nights at Hotel Tripui. Drove down to check on Gypsy. She was there waiting for us, and waiting to have her bottom painted. We thought the plan was that she’d be painted while we were driving down, and then splash her on Wednesday. Plans would have to change.

The splash was rescheduled for Friday. Gypsy got painted while we moved aboard on the hard. We relaunched, headed for a mooring ball and kept working on our stack of projects. A week and a half later, we could see the floor again in the main cabin and we had two settees to sit in. Life is good.

5 thoughts on “Southward Bound”

  1. What an adventure crossing the border. I’m glad you are not sending updates from a Mexican jail! Take good care. Pam and Carl

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